Video Girl Ai is up there on the list of anime I can't stand. It always surprises me how popular it seems to be. I know several people, dedicated anime fans all, for whom VGAi is the epitome of what they love about anime. It took me a while to figure out why this 6-part OAV series bothered me so much. I think the basic plotline is what first warned me that I probably wouldn't like the story. Being female, it just really got on my nerves that there were beautiful, curvaceous, demure Video Girls out there to comfort all the male geeks and losers in Japan, but no Video Guys to comfort the girls who might need help as badly. It seems that ultimate cool daddy Rolex (ha!) has a blind spot. It seems like such a guy-centric world that Masakazu Katsura is portraying. Yes, the anime is a shonen manga (geared towards guys), but dammit, does it have to be so blatantly sexist? How come there are only Video Girls out there? Does nobody care about comforting sad girls? I am pretty sure Moemi Hayakawa could have used a Video Guy several times in the anime and more often in the manga.
Another aspect of the OAV series that I had a problem with was the portrayal of the characters. Has anyone else noticed that Ai seems to be more of a "real" person than Moemi? Rolex had a definitely skewed view of what a "perfect" girl should be like. He had an even worse business model, but we'll get into that later. Rolex wanted his Video Girls to be demure, beautiful, self-effacing, and totally devoid of human emotions. Okay, fine. We know Rolex is messed up. But Moemi, a supposedly "normal" girl, takes all kinds of crap from Takashi and never slaps him, not even once. She is everything I hate in a fellow woman -- timid. And Takashi is shown a cool, cool dude, but distant, and in a lot of ways, insensitive. The only "real" person seems to be Ai, the supposedly malfunctioning Video Girl. She can cry, laugh, feel hate, feel love, feel jealousy. It is almost as if the message of the anime is that it is okay to be an introvert like Moteuchi 'cause hey! Miracles have been known to happen. And guess what, the guy all the girls are swooning over is really an ass. And the girl you love who falls for that ass instead is really just a paper doll.
On to Rolex's business model, I can't understand why he would go to such pains to create "perfect" Video Girls when their purpose is to help the poor sods over a heartache and help them set themselves up with a "normal" girl. What guy wouldn't fall in love with the beautiful, scantily-clad Video Girls? I mean, these guys need the Video Girls because they are having girl trouble, then they are suddenly shown a glimpse of heaven when some beautiful, nubile apparition walks out of their TV sets and pampers them for 720 hours. How can Rolex expect these guys to meekly allow themselves to be set up with "normal" girls like Moemi when they have perfect goddesses waiting on them? If I were heartbroken over some guy and suddenly had Tamahome waiting on me hand and foot, I would certainly not go back to mooning over some adolescent geek. I'd grab Tamahome and run.
However, having said all that, I must admit that the OAV series does have its good points. The name Rolex definitely isn't one of them, but the silly humor involving Ai perhaps is. The series does seem to be extremely popular, despite all the (to me) obvious drawbacks. I don't know. Maybe I am missing something. Maybe it's because I'm not a male out of luck with the girls. Maybe I just can't relate to any of the problems in the Video Girl Ai world. But whatever the case, somebody had better explain to me what's so good about VGAi 'cause I sure don't get it. I'd rather watch FY instead -- lots of fan service for girls for a change. =)